Tuesday, July 24, 2018

New Orleans "Miracle"? Let's Look at ALL the Facts

The New York Times had a two-part op-ed series on the changes forced on New Orleans and their Orleans Parish Schools because of Katrina.  Both were written by David Leonhardt.  Mr. Leonhardt states that he is going to talk about the good and the bad of what happened in New Orleans but rather than do that, he makes excuses about anything negative, hypes up the good and leaves out quite a lot of the bad.

I know you're thinking, "Why should I care about New Orleans and/or charter schools?"  I say it's important to keep up with the landscape of public education across the country because issues tend to land.  As I noted in the Tuesday Open Thread, I believe that the WA Supreme Court is likely to uphold the latest version of the charter school law (and I doubt they will rule this year and certainly won't - as they did last time - right before school starts).

A few quick updates before exploring the "New Orleans miracle."

  • Charter schools cost Oakland Unified $57.3 million per year. That’s $1,500 less in funding for each student that attends a neighborhood school.
  • The annual cost of charter schools to the San Diego Unified is $65.9 million.
  • In East Side Union, the net impact of charter schools amounts to a loss of $19.3 million per year.
  • Even our friends at the Center on Reinventing Public Education see it.   
But the rate of growth is slowing. Until 2013, the total number of U.S. charter schools was increasing by 6 to 8 percent each year. Since then, that number has fallen steadily, to less than 2 percent in 2016. In addition, charters are being asked to jump through bureaucratic hoops and comply with complex public-records requests and onerous administrative requirements, which one leader described as “death by a thousand cuts.” 
You mean like requirements that real public schools have to comply with?  They whine about public records requests? You are funded with public dollars so yes, that's part of the territory.
Charter growth in Washington state is at a snail's pace and I'm not sure that winning the latest Supreme Court battle will change that much.

The New Orleans "Miracle"

You can read the NY Times op-eds that sparked this thread but I'm going to start with the public education blogger, Mercedes Schneider, who actually lives in New Orleans.  She has written extensively on this subject including how billionaires saw an opportunity after Katrina.   Don't get mad at her for saying it:

In 2010, U.S. Secretary of Education and blatant reformer Arne Duncan insensitively referred to Hurricane Katrina as “the best thing to happen to the education system of New Orleans.”

Last fall (in 2011), a coterie of extremely wealthy billionaires, among them New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, turned the races for unpaid positions on the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) into some of the most expensive in the state’s history. Seven pro-education “reform” candidates for the BESE outraised eight candidates endorsed by the teacher’s unions by $2,386,768 to $199,878, a ratio of nearly twelve to one. In just one of these races, the executive director of Teach for America Greater New Orleans-Louisiana Delta, Kira Orange Jones, outspent attorney Louella Givens, who was endorsed by the state’s main teacher’s unions, by more than thirty-four to one: $472,382 to $13,815. [Emphasis added.]

She has stated:

The New Orleans Miracle is sand in the mouths of those who would drink from its mirage. 

She adds:

First, one must consider the unclear term, “New Orleans.” This is the name of a city, not a school district. There is Orleans Parish Schools, and its 2010-11 graduation rate was 93.5%. This begs the question: Why focus on 76.5% as the evidence of “New Orleans success” instead of Orleans Parish Schools’ 93.5%?  

Furthermore, Orleans Parish received an “A” on its 2012 district report card. Why not highlight the achievements of Orleans Parish Schools? Jacobs cites “the failure of New Orleans Public Schools” later in her writing. Why not note a beautiful recovery (pun intended)?
The answer: The success of Orleans Parish Schools only serves to underscore the failure of the state-run counterpart, RSD-NO.

Her newest piece, based on the study that the Times' op-eds uses, is How to Make New Orleans Market Ed Reform a Success: Hide RSD Failure Inside an OPSB-RSD Data Blend
On July 15, 2018, the pro-market-reform research group, Education Research Alliance of New Orleans (ERA) published this 72-page technical report entitled, “The Effects of the Post-Katrina Market-Based School Reforms on Student Achievement, High School Graduation, and College Outcomes.”

Both authors, Douglas Harris and Matthew Larsen, are economists, so it should be no surprise that they view educational success through the lens of market-based reform, and that such a view colors their perceptions of the history of ed reform in New Orleans, which they neatly package near the beginning of their paper.
Once again, not education professionals but economists.

Much history has been excluded from the Harris-Larsen background, including the fact that then-state superintendent Cecil Picard withheld federal emergency dollars from OPSB (and not from other affected school systems), which put OPSB in a position of “all educators were fired” and “allowing its teacher contract to expire.” I have written about these and other issues (and Picard’s and the state legislature’s shady hand in it) in other posts (see here and here and here for some background, or do a deep dive here).

Moreover, a number of OPSB schools are selective-admission charter schools (see also here and here), which gives even more advantage over state-run RSD schools (and which puts a snag in the “open school choice for families” narrative). It is the OPSB advantage that allows researches to combine post-Katrina, OPSB and RSD data and actually hide the lack of progress that state-run, all-charter RSD has made, all the while selling a generalized version of New Orleans market-ed-reform success to the public. 

More background from Slate
Before Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans school system boasted a significantly higher share of black teachers than most urban districts. In 2003, just 15 percent of teachers in large cities across the country were black. In New Orleans, where nearly all students are black, that figure was 72 percent.

In the aftermath of Katrina, the school board fired the district’s thousands of teachers en masse as it reconstituted the system as one largely composed of charter schools. Many educators weren’t rehired; some left teaching, or the city, for good. Between 2004 and 2014, the percent of black teachers plunged from 71 percent to 49 percent. And far fewer teachers working in schools were raised in New Orleans—resulting, many say, in large cultural gaps between the teachers and their majority-black, native New Orleanian students. In recent years the proportion of black teachers in the city has stabilized, according to a report by Tulane University’s Education Research Alliance. But hiring rates are telling. Some years, nearly 70 percent of new teachers in the city are white.

But as a result, a core part of the city’s black middle class lost work, and the demographics of the city’s teaching corps have shifted significantly in the decade since—from about 71 percent black to just under 50 percent black,

Additionally, charter schools too often rely disproportionately on educators of color to staff certain positions in the school, like disciplinarian, according to Perry and others. It raises loaded questions about who is fit to teach and who is fit to punish. Foster says black teachers are often tapped for elective subjects, like music, or coaching extracurricular teams. “That’s powerful, but I think it could be more powerful to see people of color in front of you in your core classrooms,” she says.

In 2005, more than half of the teachers had more than 10 years experience, compared with about 30 percent in 2014. 
Here are the issues with the first op-ed in the Times on New Orleans, How New Orleans is Helping Its Students Succeed
After Katrina’s devastation, New Orleans embarked on the most ambitious education overhaul in modern America. The state of Louisiana took over the system in 2005, abolished the old bureaucracy and closed nearly every school. Rather than running schools itself, the state became an overseer, hiring independent operators of public schools — that is, charter schools — and tracking their performance.
Meaning, New Orleans became the first (and only) all charter school district in the country.
This grand experiment had many good and bad sides for its majority black and low-income student population.
That "bad side?" He barely looks at it in either op-ed. 
The charters here educate almost all public-school students, so they can’t cherry pick.
Well, that is good news and at least he admits that's just what charter schools try to do.

What came next?
This month, the New Orleans overhaul entered a new stage. On July 1, the state returned control of all schools to the city. The charter schools remain. But a locally elected school board, accountable to the city’s residents, is now in charge. It’s a time when people in New Orleans are reflecting on what the overhaul has, and has not, accomplished.
The second Times op-ed by Leonhardt:

A Plea for a Fact-Based Debate About Charter Schools

I have to smile at that title because he so does not make this particular column "fact-based."  Or rather, he leaves out a lot.  That's convenient.

He first muses on how strict it is for charter school students at one school have to walk on one side of the hallway  but then gets to more of the problem:
Students walking between classes had to stay on the right side of the hallway, for example. Most alarmingly, during the year of the protest, more than 60 percent of Carver’s students were suspended for at least one day. Getting suspended was normal.
What he fails to say is that charters who have kids walking down corridors like this generally have to do it with one hand on the shoulder of the person in front of them AND silently.  That's what's strict about it. 

He goes on to say he will talk "a bit" about problems that occurred in New Orleans and then writes this:
There are two high-profile camps on education reform. Staunch defenders — who tend to be conservative — support not only charter schools but virtually all school choice, including vouchers for private schools. They see market competition as a cure-all. On the other side, the harshest critics of reform — who are largely progressive — oppose nearly any alternative to traditional schools. They view charters as a nefarious project of billionaires, and they think the academic progress is statistical hooey.
The bit about problems?  Hard to find.

I don't oppose alternatives to traditional schools. I'd just like - for example, in our state - to see schools fully funded and supported before we decide we need to have a whole other system of schools.  It is an interesting thing how many billionaires support charter schools when there are no real, large-scale successes (not even New Orleans).

From a comment on the op-ed from a psychologist who specializes in educational research:
However, saying that the average New Orleans student score in math and reading has now moved to the 37th percentile from the pre-Katrina score of 22nd percentile is like saying the schools' performance has risen from total failure to abject failure.

It is of course possible that the gain from 22nd percentile to 37th percentile might be due in part to doubling the expenditure per student or that the students who left New Orleans after Katrina were among the lower-scoring cohort.
Continuing from the op-ed:
Here’s what the evidence shows: Initially, charters’ overall results were no better than average. But they are now. The main reason, notes Margaret Raymond of Stanford University, is that regulators have shut or overhauled many of the worst-performing charters (which rarely happens with ineffective traditional schools). One form of charter has particularly impressive results — highly structured urban charters with high academic standards.
But he cites a CREDO study that says the results are still mixed.  Better (largely because of closing crappy charters) but not great and certainly not better overall than traditional schools.

As for those "structured urban charters", they are some of the most highly-segregated and uber-disciplined schools in the country. There are virtually no white children in them and I'll go out on a limb and say that Zuckerberg and Gates and the Waltons would never have sent their children to them.
And charter schools sometimes focus so much on academics that they overlook extracurriculars, as well a school’s role as a community center.
What is disturbing is setting up a system where kids of color tend to get grouped, disciplined and served in academics far differently than white students.  


Anonymous said...

"As for those "structured urban charters", they are some of the most highly-segregated and uber-disciplined schools in the country."

Aren't there some "neighborhood" schools that are minority white in SPS that require uniforms?

How about that?


Melissa Westbrook said...

First, never thought we'd agree on something. I don't like uniforms in public schools and have expressed here about SPS schools that do. However, uniforms are not the same as the strict rules at KIPP. Not by a long shot.

Anonymous said...

Parents of those neighborhood students in SPS who have to send their students to those schools have no choice.

Bringing the situation local, uniforms in these minority white schools are intended to demonstrate discipline and conformity to rules that simply do not exist, and would not be tolerated, at schools in SPS with more affluent parents.

These are schools with high FRL. The analogy to the situation in the charter schools you are addressing is unmistakable.


Melissa Westbrook said...

I didn't understand your point in your first comment, now I do.

Carol Simmons said...

One of the arguments used for uniforms being required for students in the secondary schools was that wearing uniforms eliminated competition among students resulting in envy and behavior problems.

During my 32 years serving as teacher, counselor and Principal in six secondary schools,I never experienced any resentment or anger resulting in behavior problems from any student regarding another student's dress. Uniforms in Secondary schools were never required in Seattle Secondary schools, at least in the past 60 years.

Has anyone heard if Levy dollars fund charter schools? The Seattle School District cannot seem to get an answer. We need to know.

Anonymous said...

No levy dollars for those charter schools. Damn right!

Those mostly poor kids of color in the charter schools shoulda just stayed in the schools that weren't serving their needs if they wanted the promise of a free college education, amirite, Carol? Screw those kids. They shoulda thought twice about taking the FTE outta the hands of our union sisters and brothers. We'll show them!

SEA comrade

Unknown said...

Why do so many families of color want schools with uniforms and uber-discipline?

Why do most of the parents of color who I talk to make such a big deal about who their students hang around with?

That's the thing with this whole debate: families are choosing these schools. Do you think they aren't smart enough to choose well? Do you think they've been gulled by huckster charter school proponents (and are therefore not smart enough to choose well)?

The paternalism of anti-school-choice folks is so appalling.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Actually, I think it’s the charter schools who are paternalistic. They believe, as mostly white people, that they know just what these kids need. And maybe some parents agree but many don’t and leave. That’s the story KIPP doesn’t want out there.

I think most parents are plenty smart but when you are sold unicorns and rainbows and have been unhappy at a traditional, sure it sounds great. This “choice” idea is mostly false.

Andew B. said...

It's one thing if families are making a choice to attend a school and then they're happy with the education their children are getting. You can see this at many of Seattle's option schools. Families make the choice to attend the school and then they're happy. Hazel Wolf's principal told me that the school has some turnover year to year especially among students with housing insecurity, who tend to move frequently, but you can also see that the school has a massive waiting list.

I'm not sure why Seattle needs charter schools when we already have very successful option schools.

But on the one hand, you have people saying that families shouldn't choose option schools because any choice other than your assigned school is "white flight" and then on the other hand you have people saying that families should have charter schools to choose from when their assigned school isn't meeting their needs.

Then you have families in Detroit choosing one charter school one year and another charter school the next year when they see that the first one is no good. And then another. And the kids still can't read when they graduate.

Anonymous said...


I'm a teacher and would prefer that charters did not need to exist.

However, in a place like NY City (and Seattle) where school assignment is based almost solely on location, you can't blame parents for wanting to find an alternative for their child when they can't buy their way into a stellar neighborhood school.

Also, I agree with the poster who said that more than a few parents seek out schools with strong discipline. Some cultures value discipline--period, while others view it as a welcome option to highly impacted schools where students who have experienced/are experiencing trauma may act out in ways which can take away significant amounts of learning time in the classroom.

My issue with the uniforms and discipline orientation of some "neighborhood" schools in Seattle is that they are MANDATORY assignments for the local students.

That is absolutely unacceptable in terms of basic fairness.

A choice school with that type of "Success Academy" approach is another story. Such a charter would like have a huge waiting list in Seattle.


As long as you accept the current assignment plan situation in SPS, it is very disingenuous to be against charters.


Andrew B. said...

I'm actually in favor of making some big changes to the SAP, but I don't understand why it's disingenuous to be against charter schools. SPS already has a system of excellent option schools that families really want their kids to attend. The problem right now is that there's not enough space at the option schools. Some of the wait lists are extremely long. And that the district doesn't move the waitlists sensibly. Some of the option schools have space for more students and want more students and more students want to attend these schools, but the wait lists don't move and hardly anyone gets in.

But if we fixed these issues (by expanding access to successful option schools and allowing them to fill and if necessary starting others (like Cedar Park) there would be no need for a whole shadow system of charter schools. What is the appeal of charter schools over option schools?

Some Seattle teachers hate option schools because they feel families use them as a form of "white flight" to get out of assigned neighborhood schools. And you are someone I wouldn't peg as a fan of allowing "white flight" and yet you seem pro charter school, which would allow flight from neighborhood schools.

So, why would it be beneficial to have charter schools pull students away from assignment schools but it is not beneficial to have option schools pull students away? Or are you totally fine with option schools? What about vouchers for private schools?

Anonymous said...

Exactly: option schools are too few and too restrictive. We don't need charters, we need more option schools.

Option schools are not set up rationally in terms of the SAP. For instance, why do they have geographic zones? People complain about the diversity at some option schools, yet the geographic tie-breaker ensures that mainly students living around the school can attend it. This forces some popular option schools to have really homogeneous demographics, and it tends to keep lower-income students out of them. Many, chiefly lower-income, kids live in an assignment zone outside of option school geographic zones.

An example. Say you are in the Sacajawea zone. You are thus likely lower income, based on its zone. But if you want to attend Hazel Wolf or Thornton Creek (option schools), you live well outside of the geographic zones for Hazel Wolf or Thornton Creek. When you make your school choice selection, you have a realistic chance of getting into only one of those two option schools because of the way the ranking system works. You'll end up so far down the wait list on your second choice that you cannot reasonably expect to get into your second choice. So you have to make your first choice pick very carefully with an awareness of wait lists and other factors.

The reality is, you probably won't get into either option school.

The other reality is, even if you do get in, you won't get busing, because (and ironically) you live too far away from the option school to get busing to it! No, seriously, that's how it works. So if you do get in, even though you're low income, you have to find transportation to and from Hazel Wolf or Thornton Creek every day. For six years, if you get in in kindergarten.

Also, think if immigrant families where English is not the first language. It's hard enough for native speakers of English to navigate this whole crazy system, let alone English language learners. None of the rules and consideration you need to know to play the option school game are published anywhere.

So, more likely than not, you're lower income and you're stuck at Sacajwea. Which is a fine school for most kids. But if it's not a good school for your kid, then you DO NOT HAVE SCHOOL CHOICE. You have it on paper, technically, yes, but not in reality. Because you have to go to Sacajawea. This problem exists all over the district, not just Sacajewa (that's only an example).

Generally, in Seattle Public Schools only better-off families truly have school choice. Lower-income families have it only on paper, not as a practical reality.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Success Academy is mostly a sham. Run by a hyper-aggressive ed reformer and hey look, most recent story? 25% if teachers leaving,

Unknown said...

@Andrew who wrote: "I'm not sure why Seattle needs charter schools when we already have very successful option schools. "

It's the principle of choice and freedom. Your statement is equivalent to saying: I'm not sure why Seattle needs Five Guys Burgers when we already have Dick's, McDonald's, Red Robin, etc.

Right now, we don't give families that much choice, and because of it, and public sector union opposition, we don't innovate in education.

Make schools compete for students. Once we teachers start really losing our jobs for non-performance the way my friends in the public sector do, and things will change. Schools will be more innovative, and teachers will hustle and stop protecting failing teachers.

I've been in the classroom for almost twenty years in seven districts across two states, and Seattle is the least innovative district I've taught in. It doesn't have to compete because of its size, and it has the strongest union that I've been a member of. Those correlations are hard to miss, and because I work here, I'm more in favor of school choice than I was in other places.

I agree with Richard's statement: "Generally, in Seattle Public Schools only better-off families truly have school choice. Lower-income families have it only on paper, not as a practical reality." I wish that wasn't true, but it is, and it's true generally: wealthy people have more freedom than poor people.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Oh Unknown, fascinatimg that you manage to know all the ed reform lines about "choice".

That competiton thing? Hasn't really worked yet anywhere. Let me know when it does.

And wealthy freedom versus poor people freedom is going to go on in our society and choice in schools won't change that. The end game to "helping" public schools is privatization.

Unknown said...

Charter schools show a mixed record with some successes as cited below. Let me know when public schools work out...all I hear in SPS is how bad the opportunity gap is and how much we're failing students of color, particularly boys of color, so all I can conclude is that SPS isn't working out and hasn't in my lifetime. SEA is constantly decrying how inequitable our schools are.





Anonymous said...

@ Unknown,
When I was in graduate school (education) at UW we studied the current education discourse. There was much evidence that our public education system works much better than other systems around the world which lead to much more intense inequality. In the past also the gaps were much much more unequal in the US. In addition, over the years since its creation, the public system has been asked to do more and more. There are some fantastic public schools in the US. The professor framed arguments against public education within the context of an attack on democracy in the US and the desire for corporate control of the K-12 education system. One of the last areas of a truly democratic system & one of the last areas for corporations to profit. We have seen how the debates and how our country handles healthcare.

Anonymous said...

As long as SPS continues its "neighborhood" school system and lack of true option schools, how can you argue against parents getting a better education for their kids when they can?

I'm completely against charter schools and vouchers. I'm also for the right of parents without economic means to get a better education for their children when the public schools their children must attend are inferior.

When your children can get a better education in a charter school, and your public school mandates that your child has to atten the inferior local school and you have no choice, what do you expect to happen?

Work on improving SPS for all students and charters won't even need a foothold.

That's the real issue.


Melissa Westbrook said...

FWIW, none of that is news ( at least not at this blog).

Carol Simmons said...

Implementing the Disproportionality Task Force Recommendations would be a start in improving SPS for all students.

Anonymous said...

WPD wants to call out this amazing panel yesterday at Netroots Nation: “HURRICANE LESSONS: WHAT WE’VE LEARNED FROM POST-KATRINA DISASTER CAPITALISM IN NOLA SCHOOLS”

The panel discussed the evolving tactics of disaster capitalists—taking advantage of both natural disasters and capitalistic-forced disasters, such as 1 in 12 Seattle Public School children are homeless. The panel also discussed how communities can navigate these issues to push for progressive change. The panel included four black leaders (one a former charter school network CEO!):

Ashana Bigard: advocate for children and families in Louisiana

Karran Harper Royal: a producer of “A Perfect Storm: The Takeover of New Orleans Public Schools.”

Andre Perry: Fellow at the Brookings Institution and former charter school network CEO

Julian Vasquez Heilig: Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and the Director of the Doctorate in Educational Leadership at California State Sacramento.

“Following Hurricane Katrina, the state of Louisiana took more than 120 public schools in New Orleans in the name of “recovery.” A state-appointed board fired 7,500 unionized school employees (many of them black), and handed over most schools to charter school management companies. Under privately-operated rule, schools open and close frequently, routinely weed out more “difficult” students, and push kids out by inflicting harsh discipline—a pattern that’s being replicated across the country as school reform efforts take hold. Locals have little to no say in school governance and practices. Some are optimistic that the local school board will regain control of 52 state-run charter schools by summer 2018—but accountability and transparency are far from guaranteed.”

Watch here! https://www.netrootsnation.org/nn_events/nn18/hurricane-lessons-what-weve-learned-from-post-katrina-disaster-capitalism-in-nola-schools/

Summer Stinson

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much, Summer Stinson, for reporting from the union-financed and super union-friendly confines of Netroots Nation!

We absolutely don't need diverse points of view on charter schools! We only need union sisters and brothers to talk among ourselves on what's best for children. Only WE know what's best for them.

So, thank you, Summer Stinson, for joining the crowd in NOLA and finding people who already agree with you. I'm sure your heart grew that day.


SEA Comrade

Anonymous said...

SEA Comrade:

If this bothers you and your business-group employer, then my question of Governor Inslee today may make you really see “red.”

Summer Stinson (I sign my name)

Anonymous said...

I work for the People! No bougie employer for me.


SEA Comrade

Anonymous said...

Wait. Are we trying to call out people's identities and their places of employment now? Cuz if that's the case I have suspicions on any number of anonymous posters here.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Nope and we cease and desist trying outing anyone.

Anonymous said...

Since when?

You did it and were taken to court. Just because you didn't have to pay damages (except for your own exhorbitant lawyer fees) doesn't mean you weren't a complete jerk when you outed the woman at LEV on this blog, in real time, while people were warning you.

all caps does it all the time and gets a high five from you.

Trying to impress the new Super? She's been around the block a few times and no doubt knows your game.

course par

Anonymous said...

I'm not outing anyone. But I am pretty sure that given tonight's election results, the suits at the Gates Foundation, LEV, Stand on Children, the Washington Roundtable, and more are crying into their beer. A Democratic wave is building in WA, and while they may succeed in placing one or two friends into the legislature as part of that wave, it looks just as likely that they'll be dealing with a legislature that includes DSA members, Bernie delegates, and school board members who are wise to the corporate game and have no use for charter schools or underfunded public schools.

Oh, and Rodney Tom is getting crushed.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Course Par, you are mistaken. I was not taken to court for "outing" - it was a restraining order. Completely not the same thing. You must be friends with the silly woman who did that because she complained, to anyone who would listen, how terrible I was to get a lawyer. If you had read her "complaint", you would have wondered why she didn't get one. The judge said her complaint had no merit at all and would not even listen to her lawyer (she finally got one when I countersued).

I'm not going to rehash the whole thing but you are wrong.

all caps makes comments about district personnel which, if not name-calling, are allowed here.

I never worry about impressing anyone because most of us have been around long enough to know that really isn't how you get things done.

Benedict, I loved the Governor's tweet of a gif of a blue wave coming and it says, "Surf's up."

Yes, and buh, bye Rodney.

Anonymous said...

course par/fwiw/delete me,

Bringing up a private court case involving Melissa, of which few of us would have known the details otherwise, is OUTING and actually hypocritical considering the substance of your comment.

Your comment deserves deletion.

Keep it...


Anonymous said...

course par, "outing" someone on your own blog isn't illegal, it's barely if at all unethical. If someone sued over such an "outing," they're probably not too bright.

But turns out, as Melissa shared, this suit wasn't about "outing" but was rather over a restraining order. Which also wasn't too bright.

With all that said, I only ask that Melissa adhere to HER own policy --- it's HER blog. The attempted outing above should probably be deleted per Melissa's own policy, but it hasn't been (even with Melissa's acknowledgement of its existence).

So, when you post here, no it's Melissa's blog. She can do what she wants. And in this case, as many other cases, she tends to err on the side of enforcing or not enforcing her own policies per her own biases. That's human. Just know that's the territory you entered and enter at your own risk.